Thursday, January 29, 2009
Why understanding the mode of baptism is important
It's important for us to have a clear understanding of baptism in the New Testament. Not understanding this matter leads to a variety of errors, and also makes us easy prey for those teaching a form of legalism about baptism.
Understanding how baptisms occurred in the New Testament is also important to understanding some of the background of the New Testament. The scandal of the incarnation is that our Savior is a certain man, who lived in a certain time, in a certain part of the world. The world of first century Palestine is vastly different from our time, and reading certain assumptions back into the New Testament cause us to misunderstand what is being said and taught there.
Understanding things such as the geography and hydrology (the study of water) of Palestine are also important to understanding New Testament baptisms.
Unlike a book such as the Koran, the Bible wasn't dropped from Heaven. The writers weren't scribes who wrote as God dictated. They were writing in first century Palestine, not Rome of 1492 or New York of 1846 or Beijing of 2009. If we seek to know the New Testament, we have to know the nature and background of where the New Testament books were written, and what the writers meant and how they dealt with life.
And it's not that hard. It requires trying to take off blinders that we all carry around. Taking those blinders off isn't easy. I make no claim to having lost them all. But it's a job we need to do. And the rewards are great.